Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1893/25994
Appears in Collections:Law and Philosophy Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: A Grave Situation: An Examination of the Legal Issues raised by the Life and Death of Charles Byrne, the "Irish Giant"
Author(s): Muinzer, Thomas
Contact Email: thomas.muinzer@stir.ac.uk
Keywords: Cultural property law
dead bodies law
repatriation
burial law
legal history
Issue Date: Feb-2013
Citation: Muinzer T (2013) A Grave Situation: An Examination of the Legal Issues raised by the Life and Death of Charles Byrne, the "Irish Giant", International Journal of Cultural Property, 20 (1), pp. 23-48.
Abstract: Charles Byrne was an eighteenth-century celebrity “Irish giant” who requested burial upon nearing death, but whose corpse was procured against his wishes by the surgeon John Hunter. Hunter reduced Byrne’s corpse to its skeleton and exhibited it as the centerpiece of his vast anatomical collection. It has since remained on display in the Hunterian Museum, London. In 2011 it was announced that research conducted on the skeleton’s DNA has revealed that several Northern Irish families share a common ancestry with Byrne. This article considers the legal issues raised by Byrne’s story. The results of fieldwork undertaken by the author in Byrne’s native townland are also discussed, where folk tradition suggests that Byrne wished to be buried foremost at a local site remembered today as “the Giant’s Grave.”
DOI Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S094073911200046X
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